How Baby Shark Became the Most Viewed YouTube Video

With everyone being locked up at home during the pandemic, parents and kids alike have been ravaging the video consumption world. You’ve probably heard of the infamous “Baby Shark” sing and dance along video that has permeated the likes of the YouTube trending page and the TikTok For You Page, causing nearly everyone to have seen it. The Baby Shark video has now crossed over 7 Billion, 125 million views officially declaring itself the most-watched YouTube video ever. Back three years ago, the crown was held by none other than Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” music video, but parents of small children will tell you it’s no surprise that the music industry’s greatest hit of the 2010’s was dethroned by the Pinkfong empire. But how exactly did the children’s anthem fly up the YouTube charts and claim victory?

Baby Shark is one of those tunes that can’t get out of your head. Most people can recite it verbatim at this point. It’s for this reason that the fact of the video being the most viewed isn’t what’s astonishing for people, it’s just how dramatically, and rapidly, it flew up the charts. Last April, the video only had a lesser, yet almost as impressive whopping 2.5 billion views and has now risen over 181% since.

Let’s get down to the science, or rather, calculations, behind videos on YouTube gaining views. The more people watch a video, the more the video is recommended to others—we all know that. But probably the most important factor that goes into how YouTube decides what videos to recommend over others is watch time. This means the more that a video is watched from start to finish without fail, the more it will be recommended. If you know anything about Baby Shark, its’ that kids are watching it nonstop. They just can’t get enough of it! Think about the times we’re in right now. Kids are suddenly home all the time and so are parents. Parent still have to work, though. What better way to occupy the kids than to have their favorite song playing on repeat just to get some peace—at least for a little while. So, as the trend goes, this video is being watched again and again and, you guessed it, again.

But what’s so special about Baby Shark that keeps the kids occupied? There’s actually a scientific reasoning behind it (of course there is). According to experts, the tune’s repetitive lyrics and fast tempo trigger the pleasure center in the brain. In an article from The Daily Beast, Beatriz Ilari, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of music said that “The song has a simple melody that is not only ‘catchy,’ but is also easy to sing and memorize. Interestingly enough, the catchiness can actually increase dopamine levels in kids’ brains. It doesn’t just affect kids, though. In the same way how catchy adult pop songs are, aka faster music, the tempo of Baby Shark can target the brainstem, having the potential to stimulate dopamine levels that deal with movement. It’s this sync of movement with beat patterns that are pleasurable because it results in a formation of predictions. This means that the second you hear the first verse, the second, third and chorus are already in your head. You just can’t escape this video.

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